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Where can I get a virtual mobile phone that can be accessed through the internet, or, optionally, to my real phone?
March 20, 2012 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Where can I get a phone number that I can access through the internet, with the option of forwarding to my cell phone? That can handle voice *and* SMS in both directions (for privacy reasons).

I have looked and looked, expecting the solution to be just around the corner, but have not been able to find a solution that supports SMS messages.

Many of the services have bizarre limitations on them too, like text messages sent from skype don't even reach the number, and you can't use it for activating a facebook account.

I just want something like a virtual mobile phone that I can use through the internet (ideally web-based), or, optionally, connect to my mobile phone.

No frills are needed but I need full-functionality, the real thing, in terms of being just as compatible as any normal mobile phone. I don't want people trying to contact me and not being able to get through because "that's not supported" or whatnot. Especially with sms they won't know that I didn't get it.

This is for a charity organization, we get a lot of volunteers that are reluctant to give out their real phone numbers and stuff, and that interferes with things a lot. I'd like to just hand them the username and password for a service as described above so they can use that.

"virtual phone numbers" exist but they are used for sending bulk text messages and stuff, and are $25 a month. I only pay $10 a month for my real phone so there must be something cheaper?

Obviously if I wanted to place a call or send an sms though this service I would call/send it to a dedicated number and use some sort of interface to indicate to the system what the final destination is...
posted by Nish ton to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Google Voice? You have to pair it to a real phone number, but once set up you can deactivate all call/text forwarding.
posted by melizabeth at 3:30 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seconding Google Voice. I think it will do everything you need it to.
posted by amcm at 5:44 PM on March 20, 2012


Yeah, Google Voice is your answer. It supports everything you mention here - the only thing that isn't supported is MMS (and apparently iPhone group texts are sent as MMS).
posted by hot soup at 5:45 PM on March 20, 2012


I was going to suggest Google voice as well, until I understood that you're not wanting this for yourself, but you'll want to set up numbers for each of your individual volunteers, you said..."we get a lot of volunteers that are reluctant to give out their real phone numbers and stuff, and that interferes with things a lot. I'd like to just hand them the username and password for a service as described above so they can use that. .

If that's not what you meant, you might want to clear that up.

If that IS what you meant, then it will be difficult for you to set up gmail accounts, google voice accounts, and then pair them with your volunteer's personal phones.
posted by HuronBob at 7:07 PM on March 20, 2012


Google Voice. Give out that number, instead. It's good to have people calling that number after you have accidentally broken the screen on your cellphone.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:35 PM on March 20, 2012


Rats, I forgot to specify that I am in Ottawa. Google voice has all kinds of limits like those mentioned above in Canada. You can't even get an incoming phone number.
posted by Nish ton at 7:09 AM on March 21, 2012


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